The NSW Government has expanded its Rural and Remote Incentives Reform program in an effort to attract more temporary teachers to work in the bush.
The expansion comes in the wake of a 24 hour work stoppage as public school teachers undertook industrial action, the first in more than a decade.
According to Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell, $8m of the initial $15m incentives package will be used to extend the existing program to include temporary teachers and double to bonuses for teachers taking up a job in regional NSW.
Mr Toole called the new incentive system 'the most generous in the country' for temporary teachers, providing them with an additional salary of up to $30,000 as well as travel, living and housing incentives.
However whilst the NSW Government calls the program 'generous', NSW Teachers Federation Western Organiser Brett Bertalli says it is a moot point.
"We absolutely need incentives, the inequity between temporary and permanent teachers is one that needs to be fixed," Mr Bertalli said.
"However if there is no teachers to attract it is a moot point."
Mr Bertalli said the revised program was a 'welcome first step' but hardly a fix to the staffing crisis facing public schools across the state.
"What we actually need is more secure work, permanency, a promise that teachers actually have a permanent job when they come to the bush, not just additional incentives," Mr Bertalli said.
"The government has failed, we need an additional 11,000 teachers over the next 10 years and will run out of teachers in the next five years."
At Murrumbidgee Regional High School alone, there are eight positions vacant, as the school struggles to attract teaching talent.
Just last week, Greg Adamson, Owner at Agriculture Education and former classroom science teacher wrote to The Area Newsabout how without incentives, teacher shortages and classes will remain uncovered well into the future.
"Classes have remained uncovered because a casual teacher's maximum income isn't much more than $50,000 per annum," Mr Adamson said.
"By accepting a temporary teaching position, a teacher will earn up to $100,000 per year. In addition, they avoid the financial disincentive of having to live without an income from early December until March.
"We will continue to see shortages and our children continually impacted as a teacher here in Griffith receives the same pay as a teacher in Wollongong or any other metropolitan area."
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